Monday, June 2, 2008

Are you ready for the challenge?

According to the headline from Defense News, U.S. Defense Tech Security Called 'Swiss Cheese', the defense industry is in for increased challenges with international operations. Obviously this should alert FSO’s and security specialists to a whole new world of subcontracting or outsourcing defense work to foreign countries. This story has been going on for a while now as major news sources report the “benefits” of a weaker U.S. dollar. These benefits include, the ability of foreign countries to do business with U.S. Industry.

Foreign countries now have more money to pay for our products and services. This is very attractive and appealing to U.S. companies needing the cash. This can be good news if the business is conducted properly. Well prepared industrial security professionals know how to address these challenges and lead their companies to compliance success.

What can security do? First of all, stay abreast of company activities and develop relationships with contracts, purchasing, business development, and program managers. Part of the relationship is ensuring that they know the compliance issues raised with conducting business with foreign countries. Foreign Ownership Control and Influence as well as International Security Operations are detailed in the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM). Exporting technology is addressed in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

Learn to speak the language of business and discuss the security and compliance issues in the language of the business unit. Selling security through fear or spouting regulations is not the most successful policy. Business leaders at all levels want to be successful and know that they have to follow government regulations. You can develop tremendous credibility guiding them through the many requirements.

Finally, security practitioners conduct continuous risk assessments. Industrial, corporate and other types of espionage are a real threat. Train employees to be responsible with proprietary and national secrets. Make the training contract specific to prevent any unauthorized disclosure of those secrets. Also, develop technology control plans to prevent accidental export violations and practice, test and re-assess continuously.

It is up to industrial security professionals to ensure that DoD contractors do not contribute to the Swiss Cheese description. Know what the business trends are, learn how to work them into the requirements of NISP, and work closely with your oversight agency or Defense Security Services representative.

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